Role of the Nursing Supervisor in Hospital Settings

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nurse supervisor with her team

Nursing supervisors provide a critical link between hospital management and clinical care, overseeing patient-care operations, assigning and monitoring staff nurses and identifying and implementing quality improvements.

In the nursing supervisor role, registered nurses (RNs) are ultimately responsible for healthcare teams and maintaining safe and smooth operations within a unit.

“To be a nursing supervisor, you must first and foremost be willing and able to lead,” said in “Could You Succeed as a Nursing Supervisor?”. “Some nursing supervisors have natural leadership ability, but most develop their skills through a combination of experience and training. Nurses can learn supervisory skills through supervisor education or special team-leader training.”

Indeed, supervisory skills, including hiring, strategic planning and budgeting, are essential components of success in MSN careers. RNs who earn a master’s in nursing, including through online master’s in nursing degree programs, learn the skills needed to lead teams of nurses.

Working as a Nurse Supervisor

Across the United States, nurse supervisors oversee their healthcare teams to improve patient outcomes. Their job titles differ depending on where they work. Other titles for nurse supervisors at hospitals and medical facilities across the country include:

  • Administrative clinical supervisor
  • Administrative manager
  • Administrative supervisor
  • Administrator on duty
  • Charge nurse
  • Clinical manager
  • Clinical supervisor
  • Head nurse
  • House manager
  • House supervisor
  • Nurse administrator
  • Nurse manager

Rather than primarily providing direct patient care (like staff nurses), nursing supervisors mainly focus on administrative duties. They help staff nurses provide direct patient care while handling other tasks, such as:

Hiring, teaching and training

Nurse supervisors hire and train nurses who are new to the profession or the facility by providing clear directions. They also conduct ongoing staff training.


In addition to managing staff, nursing supervisors oversee their unit’s finances. They create budgets, make fiscal adjustments and monitor expenses.


Nursing supervisors ensure that all hospital shifts are fully staffed for optimal patient safety. They work with staff members to attain a work-life balance.

Enforcing protocols

As leaders, nurse supervisors are responsible for establishing and maintaining the safety of staff and patients. Nurse supervisors write and update policies and procedures and are expected to lead by example.


Nursing supervisors discipline staff members when necessary, using positive techniques that emphasize retraining and reteaching rather than punishment and embarrassment.

Nursing supervisors also meet with other nurses, patients, family members and doctors to discuss individual cases and communicate issues. They also strive to create an atmosphere that encourages achievement throughout the staff and wellness in patients, Lyrose Ortiz, RN, said in an interview with Working Nurse. Ortiz, an ICU nursing supervisor in California, said effective nurse managers motivate staff nurses by “helping to teach them the most efficient ways to manage patient care.”

“Education and improved efficiency make nurses better able to handle stressful situations,” Ortiz said. “Most of the time, I provide education and bedside in-services for nurses on new procedures. I also watch closely for things that need correction or improvement and performance that deserves special recognition. I believe that recognition and appreciation definitely motivate staff.”

Nurse Supervisor Pay and Outlook

According to, nurse supervisors earn an average of $35.86 an hour, with a range of $25 an hour to $51 an hour. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said the median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $99,730 in May 2018 (the most recent data available).

The BLS said the employment of medical and health services managers would grow 18 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average. As the baby boomer population ages and people remain active later in life, there will be an increased demand for healthcare services, the BLS said.

The federal agency also said most nurses seeking supervisory roles have work experience in administrative or clinical roles in hospitals or other healthcare facilities. Most job candidates have earned master’s degrees, the BLS said.

RNs who are interested in working in an MSN career as a nursing supervisor turn to online master’s in nursing programs. At Duquesne University, online master’s in nursing students learn essential leadership skills to succeed as nursing supervisors.

About Duquesne University’s Online MSN Degree Program

Duquesne University’s online MSN program allows RNs to earn an advanced education in one of six tracks:

  • Forensic Nursing
  • Nurse Education and Faculty Roles
  • Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Nurse Leadership and Health Care Management

Students can further complement their track of study by adding a specialized concentration in Nurse Education, Forensic Nursing or Transcultural Nursing.

Duquesne University also offers online Post-Master’s Certificate programs for RNs who already have an MSN. The flexible online coursework allows RNs to continue their career and family commitments while earning an advanced degree.

For more information about the programs, contact Duquesne University today.



Could You Succeed as a Nursing Supervisor?:

ICU Nursing Supervisor: Working Nurse

Nurse Supervisor Job Description: Monster

Average Nursing Supervisor Hourly Pay:

Medical and Health Services Managers: BLS